In my own experience they can run in families through the generations. If you go to a 12 step programme you will learn that like all addictions the illness is “cunning, baffling and powerful. “ One of my daughters described it to me as “sneaky”, which I thought was an excellent description.
It might come as a surprise to people to learn that eating disorders can feature on firstly the addiction spectrum and secondly as a disease/illness. Some people dispute the fact that addiction is a disease in the sense that they think it is a choice to overeat, undereat, take drugs, drink alcohol to excess etc.
It’s a complicated business!
I watched the programme last night about Karen Carpenter who died of a heart attack at age 32 after a long eating disorder battle. It was incredible or maybe not, to see the extent of the denial in her mind. Some professional asked her mother could she not give her a hug and show her love?
They came up with various theories about the family. Richard was the favourite. Blame the mother. That’s always a good place to start! If you go to any 12 step meeting you will often hear the recovery story which usually gives the dysfunctional upbringing an airing.
However, there comes a time that we have to recognise we still might not fully understand the causes of these illnesses. What we can learn is a way to live with them. 12 step programmes such as Overeaters Anonymous can be enormously helpful. This exists for anyone with a problem with food including undereaters/anorexics.